Monday, July 15, 2024

After his hush money conviction, a new question emerges: Can Trump pardon himself?

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Donald Trump could delay and potentially reverse his conviction through appeals, but even if he wins the presidency, he won’t have the power to pardon himself.

Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records, the first former president to be convicted of a felony. The Manhattan jury found he disguised a hush money reimbursement as legal expenses to cover up the $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11, and he is expected to appeal the conviction. A sentence in this case could be probation or something even lighter like community service, but if he does get jail or prison time he would likely remain free while he appeals.

Resolving his appeals would go past the election.

But even if Trump is elected as the next president, he cannot pardon himself in this case as presidential pardons only apply to federal cases, not state cases. However, once in the White House he could further delay his confinement until after his term expires. Under existing legal precedents, he also would be able to delay his Georgia election interference trial until after he leaves office.

What’s next: Donald Trump is now a convicted felon: Can he still run for president?

Could Trump pardon himself in outstanding federal cases?

When Trump was in the White House, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani made comments that president “probably” could pardon himself, but Trump has said in a previous interview that “the last thing I’d ever do is give myself a pardon,” NBC News reported.

While a presidential pardon would not apply to this conviction, Trump still faces three other cases. Two of them are federal cases, which some argue would be eligible for a presidential pardon.

But a president issuing a self-pardon would be unprecedented, so its legality is unclear.

None of the other cases Trump faces have set trial dates, and experts say they are increasingly unlikely to happen before Election Day.

What was Trump found guilty of?

Trump was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Each count is tied to a different business record that prosecutors argued Trump was responsible for falsifying in order to either conceal or commit another crime.

Those records include 11 checks paid to former lawyer Michael Cohen, 11 invoices from Cohen and 12 entries in Trump’s business ledgers.

The jury found that Trump authorized a plan to reimburse Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment issued to Stormy Daniels and spread the payments across 2017 disguised as legal expenses.

Contributing: Aysha Bagchi, Josh Meyer

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